What truly pleases me is how the Irish achieved this win--they played a complete game. They played sound, fundamental football in both halves. They committed zero turnovers. They protected their quarterback. They gave up zero big plays in special teams, and converted every kick. They caused seven turnovers themselves, and they held UCLA to just 4-of-15 on third down. They played a complete and excellent game. Saturday, the Irish looked like a well-coached team. It's been awhile since I've been able to say that.
I know it's only one game, but I sure liked what I saw from Corwin Brown and this Irish defense. Yes, they did this against a third string, walk-on quarterback, but I just loved to see how aggressive, and yes, nasty, the defense played. They finally brought the nasty, and boy was it fun to watch!
Most important to me was seeing that Brown certainly wants to play this way in the future when he has the talent to let turn his unit loose. Yes Irish fans, we might finally start playing defense like the big boys. It's been a long time a commin'.
UCLA entered this game known as a team that can get after the quarterback. Notre Dame didn't throw it that many times, but when they did, Jimmy Clausen sure looked to have a lot of time to get rid of the football. The Bruins only sacked Clausen three times in the game. Bruce Davis did get his sacks, but overall I was very pleased with pass protection against a good pass rushing team. Now, if the Irish can now get their receivers open, maybe they'd have something to work with….baby steps…..
Note: Did you know Indiana leads the country in sacks with 29? Yes, Indiana.
I don't know about you but I sure like watching this team when both Kerry Neal and Brian Smith are on the field at the same time. Neither player is ready physically to play an entire game, but they sure get after the quarterback and play with a whole lot of enthusiasm and emotion. That has to be contagious for this team.
Celebrating this win sure will be fun this week, but the fiesta could be short-lived. Looming large on the schedule is another tussle with Boston College. While most Irish fans hate to admit it, this Boston College team is a very, very good football team. I've watched at least three of their previous games and this team is a much, much better football team than USC. They play sound, fundamental, disciplined football, and they don't shoot themselves in the foot.
The Eagles are very solid against the run, allowing under 50 yards per game. They're also tough to score on allowing just 18.3 points per game. And, they protect their senior quarterback quite well. Notre Dame will have their hands full next weekend when Boston College comes to town.
Oh wouldn't it be sweet if the Irish could……….I can imagine nothing sweeter, well, maybe a victory over USC.
I don't know about you, but I'm getting more and more excited about these 19 players who have chosen to play for the Irish in this 2008 recruiting class.
It would've been easy to start looking around. It would've been easy to give into the pressure, but not one of them has given up hope or given up on their future team. That's the type of character and guts championships are built upon. When the chips were down, not one of these guys flinch--a solid rock to build upon. That folks….is impressive. I can't wait to watch this group run out of the tunnel and represent the Irish.